I’ve sat down to write this entry probably a dozen times. I have yet to finish one. However, Oktoberfest 2012 began yesterday, September 22nd, so I’m committed to finishing this time. I think the reason I have trouble writing this post is that it’s difficult to describe how incredibly, 90-miles-an-hour-with-your-hair-on-fire fun the Munich fall festival is. It’s also difficult to remember parts of it. That’s a different issue.
I got to Munich sometime in the early afternoon and my friend Eberhard met me at the subway station near his apartment. Then we sat down and had a talk about all our hopes and fears. Naw, I’m kidding. We went to Oktoberfest and got bombed. In the words of Peter Griffin, “Let’s drink until we can’t feel feelings anymore!” Mission accomplished. My friends also forced me to order a pickle.
“Would anyone like a pickle,” said the very old and frail German woman who walked up to our table in the beer garden outside the Lowenbrau tent.
“No, thank you,” was my polite response.
“OH SURE HE DOES”, “He needs a pickle”, “HE LOVES PICKLES” was what my “friends” responded together. To this day, I have no idea how they all knew to say that together. It was like they planned it.
For a few moments, the elderly pickle sales woman and I sat there awkwardly looking first at the people I was with, then back at each other, back at my friends, down at the pickles… Finally, out of fear that if this continued all of us might get caught in an infinite loop of indecision and pickle hucksterism, I pulled out a euro coin, gave it to her and received my pickle which my friends then pressured me to eat. First lesson of the day; German pickles leave something to be desired. They are soft. Soft might be a desirable trait in something like a pillow but it is less so in a pickled cucumber. Second lesson of the day; don’t trust your friends.
The post-pickle day was great. We made our way to one of the tents my friends assured me was THE tent for our like. It was the Hacker Pcshorr Tent. Truth be told, I was at this point very familiar with the Hacker tent. I’ve been there a few times. If your 20-35 years old, this is a great tent. It isn’t a complicated place. Men wear fashionable clothes or lederhosen. Women wear fashionable clothes or dirndls (think of the dress the St. Pauli Girl wears). Everyone is drinking over-sized beers, everyone is singing, everyone is happy, and EVERYONE is drunk. The band is playing and people are swaying, talking to the opposite sex and trying desperately not to fall over. More on that later.
The second day consisted of more of the same with another group of friends. We spent the day drinking at the Hacker tent. Again, it was a lot of fun. I saw one guy, who I later found out was from New Zealand, X five liters of beer. A little background, at Oktoberfest if you are willing to stand up on your bench and drink your entire beer (1 liter) in one continuous chug (the act of “X”-ing a beer) then you will receive the adoration of the crowd. However, if you fail, you must be prepared for their unending German wrath, and as everyone knows, German wrath is second to none. Just listen to them talk. Terrifying.
Ok, back to the New Zealand guy who has already drank 2 liters of beer in the span of maybe fifteen minutes. At this point a self assured and very drunk, dough-faced German guy stands up across from the gentleman from New Zealand. He points to the Kiwi as if to challenge him; German guy’s Waterloo. They begin and each looks to be holding their own for a few seconds. Doughy German then tries to turn on the afterburners. He tilts the beer higher, overwhelming his ability to drink. Beer flows past the aforementioned doughy cheeks and onto the aforementioned doughy chest in a spectacular and majestic cascade of beer. At this point, demonstrating the desire (and peripheral vision) of a true competitor he sees he has nevertheless fallen behind. Digging deep, he tilts the beer further back. Some might say too far. Unfortunately the heart of a champion does not include the balance of a champion in a package deal.
He lost his balance and fell onto the very surprised group of people behind him in an explosion of beer, foam and baby fat. In that pile contained every person who did not find this to be the funniest thing that had ever happened. The Kiwi easily finished his beer raised it over his head and turned it upside down. A puff of foam fell on his head, down his face, and onto his shirt. He’d drink three more before the day was over and he went to the hospital for acute alcohol poisoning. The dough-faced German lad unfortunately passed way from embarrassment.
Later that night my friend’s siblings came and we continue drinking. At seven o’clock the band begins playing “popular songs” along with the more hard-core drinking fare. Two very important things happened in this segment of the evening. One, was we sang “Sweet Caroline”. They had never heard this song before. Two, all of the siblings paired off with one stranger or another. Then things got weird. Everybody started making out; everyone except me. It was like high school all over again. Just me standing there watching my friend and all his siblings making out with random strangers. The only thing I could think was, “Man, Germany is different. I am NOT drunk enough for this.” There was one of the siblings standing next to me, though. She was taking pictures. Yeah, Oktoberfest man…
Next day, I decided to walk around Munich. This is what’s known in drinking circles as a strategic mistake. The problem lies in the fact that, although I had a great time going to museums and sites, I wasn’t able to find any time to actually eat. No problem I thought, I’ll just eat at the tent. It’s too bad that the tent was so full there wasn’t anywhere to sit, let alone eat. The best I could do was a giant pretzel. Here’s a tip; if you want you want to drink around a gallon of beer in a single evening, you need to eat two giant pretzels at a minimum. What transpired was an exercise in the art of the epic fail. The next morning I woke up with a headache. That was not a surprise. What was a surprise was the fact was that it was towards the back of my head, and there was a bump there too. Hhhhmmm…
Michael: “So Madison, head hurt?”
Madison: (Oh no, what happened) “Yeah a little. Why?”
Michael and Eberhard told me. The previous night we were lucky enough to get a table at the Schoetenhomel tent. After that we were lucky enough to convince a group of six attractive girls who needed a table to share our company. My luck continued as the girls found it very interesting that I had come all the way from America. They wanted to take a picture with me. Here is precisely where my luck ended. They leaned into me on top of an unstable bench. The next thing that happened was the natural consequence of gravity and beer. We ended up as a mass of humanity and lawn furniture. On the way down I apparently struck the back of my head on the table behind me, spilling some of their beer in the process. One of the girls came up bleeding. It was bad. Actually it went so far beyond bad that it is difficult for anyone not there to understand. I felt like the heal at a 1970’s wrestling match. I had become the masked Russian guy that the crowd hates.
I did a lot more that week. I slept at Frederik’s one weekend. Frederik tends to be a more level headed individual then me. He convinced me to see some people I haven’t spoken to in a while. Despite our history we all had a good time. I saw Thomas for the third time that trip. We met a German woman that looked exactly like Haley Berry. It was like seeing a unicorn.
(Go get 'em Big E)